The South Carolina Gamecocks (5-1,3-1) are now the favorites to win the SEC East. Sure, No. 14 Missouri is unbeaten and sitting atop the standings at the moment, and one-loss Georgia still holds a tiebreaker advantage over the Gamecocks, having beaten them in September. But the Tigers lost their star QB, James Franklin, to injury for three to five weeks and South Carolina plays the Tigers, now led by freshman Maty Mauk, next week.
Also, if the Gamecocks, Tigers and Bulldogs all finish with one conference loss, the tiebreaker would go to the highest ranked team at the end of the regular season, which (barring a monumental blowout loss to rival Clemson) figures to be South Carolina.
Missouri may not even get by No. 22 Florida this week without Franklin. Assuming the Tigers do win and assuming the Gamecocks beat them next week, the Gators will really be all that stands between South Carolina and a trip to Atlanta in December.
Now, on to what we learned about the Gamecocks on the field.
The days of letting big leads slip away only to escape with narrow victories appear to be a thing of the past (at least for a week). After Arkansas went up 7-0, the Gamecocks scored the final 52 points of the game and emphatically closed the book on any thoughts of a Razorbacks’ comeback.
South Carolina looked impressive as ever on both sides of the ball. The Gamecocks racked up 537 yards, 32 first downs and chewed up more than 43 minutes of clock. Apparently, the team’s new anti-comeback strategy is simply to not let the other team have the ball.
For the short amount of time Arkansas did have the ball, the Gamecocks’ defense quickly smothered every single drive, allowing just seven (yes, seven) first downs and stopping the Hogs on five of seven third down plays.
We also learned Steve Spurrier pities the Razorbacks.
“I do feel badly for Arkansas,” the head ball coach said. “It’s no fun getting your butt beat like this, at home on homecoming and all that.”
What to look for in Week 8: Avoiding a letdown. Coming off a huge win (USC’s first in Fayetteville since 2005) and one week before taking on No. 14 Missouri in a game that has huge divisional implications, the Gamecocks should be wary of the Tennessee Volunteers, especially in Neyland Stadium. That being said, if South Carolina isn’t completely flat and is able to avoid egregious mistakes and turnovers, it should have no problem handling the Vols.